Skip to main content

Nearly 40 Million Viewers Watch Joe Biden’s Inauguration

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden fist bumps newly sworn-in Vice President Kamala Harris after she took the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden fist bumps newly sworn-in Vice President Kamala Harris after she took the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

CNN topped television’s coverage of Wednesday’s Inauguration of President Joe Biden as nearly 40 million viewers across several broadcast and cable networks viewed the festivities.

CNN averaged 9.9 million viewers from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., topping ABC’s 7.6 million viewers and NBC’s 6.8 million watchers, according to Nielsen. MSNBC (6.5 million), CBS (6 million) and Fox News (2.7 million) rounded out the list. 

Overall, 39.5 million viewers tuned in to see Biden’s swearing in ceremony, up from the 38 million viewers who tuned into Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration averaged 50.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

Also Read: Communications Industry Extends Congratulations to President Biden

CNN was also the most watched network during the broader 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. period, averaging 7.7 million viewers, topping ABC with 5.3 million viewers and MSNBC with 5.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen. The 29.2 million total viewers for the time period across the six networks was up from the 26.8 million viewers for the 2017 inauguration but down from 2009 (34.3 million).

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.